The Latest: Sen. Paul blocks Sen. Sanders’ Russia resolution

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The Latest: Sen. Paul blocks Sen. Sanders’ Russia resolution
The Latest: Sen. Paul blocks Sen. Sanders’ Russia resolution

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Latest on President Donald Trump and Russia (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

A Republican senator has blocked a symbolic Democratic effort to have Senate protect U.S. elections systems from Russian interference.

The resolution from Sen. Bernie Sanders also said President Donald Trump had to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And Sanders wanted to put the Senate on record as standing by U.S. intelligence agencies’ assessment that Russia intervened in the election that put Trump in the White House.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul says “Trump derangement syndrome has fully come to the Senate.” He’s accusing Sanders and Democrats of acting on “hatred of the president” to block Russian diplomacy.

Sanders was trying to advance his proposal by unanimous consent, but that means it takes only one senator’s objection can block it.

Sanders’ resolution comes in the wake of comments by Trump questioning the extent of Russian interference.

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11:30 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has asked two committees to hold hearings on Russian sanctions in the wake of President Donald Trump’s questioning of the extent of Moscow’s interference in U.S. elections.

McConnell says the hearings are part of congressional efforts to respond to meddling by Russia or others in the upcoming November elections.

U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that Russians will strike back in 2018 after interfering in 2016.

On Wednesday, Trump appeared to question that, but the White House later said that he does believe that Russia may try it again.

McConnell says intelligence assessments are clear that Russian leader Vladimir Putin “ordered an influence campaign.”

McConnell says the Senate committees would consider sanctions and recommend additional measures to deter Russian interference.

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11:25 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says Democrats will offer a nonbinding resolution that would put the Senate on record as opposing giving foreign governments the ability to question U.S. diplomats and other American officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn) has suggested that he wants Russian interviews of Americans who are accused by the Kremlin of unspecified crimes. The White House says Trump is weighing the offer.

Russian officials have said they want to interview Kremlin critics Bill Browder and Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia.

Schumer calls it “bewildering” that Trump would even consider such a request.

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11:20 a.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is introducing a resolution that calls on the Senate to protect U.S. elections systems and would require President Donald Trump to cooperate with the special counsel investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election.

The nonbinding resolution also says the Senate stands by the assessment of the U.S. intelligence agencies on Russia and says the Senate won’t accept any interference with special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

Lawmakers are pushing several responses to Trump’s Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the White House’s shifting commentary about it.

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11 a.m.

A top GOP senator says President Donald Trump needs to understand that he’s “misjudging” Russian leader Vladimir Putin (POO’-tihn).

Sen. Lindsey Graham says Trump’s had a “bad week” when it comes to Russia in the wake of the Trump-Putin summit Monday in Helsinki.

Here’s what the South Carolina lawmaker says about Trump: “I think it’s imperative that he understand that he’s misjudging Putin. I don’t think he was prepared as well as he should have been.”

Trump has come under heavy criticism since the Putin meeting, where he declined to challenge Putin on Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Graham says Trump is right to criticize previous American administrations for their handling of Russia. But he says Trump “is not making the problem better. He’s making it worse.”

He adds that Trump “has the potential to make it better, and I hope he will.”

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10:50 a.m.

The Republican-controlled House is moving ahead with a spending bill that eliminates new money for election security grants to states.

That’s drawing from protests by Democrats who say Republicans aren’t doing enough to prevent Russian meddling in U.S. elections.

Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois says “Russians attacked our democracy. They will be back. The president is not willing to meet this challenge. We must be willing to meet the challenge.”

Congress approved $380 million in the current budget for a grant program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission. Democrats want to continue the money through 2019, but Republicans say there’s still money available to states and new spending isn’t needed.

A Democratic amendment to extend the money has come up short – with 182 yes votes and 232 no votes.

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7:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is claiming that the “Fake News Media wants so badly to see a major confrontation with Russia, even a confrontation that could lead to war.”

Here’s what Trump has tweeted: “They are pushing so recklessly hard and hate the fact that I’ll probably have a good relationship with Putin,” referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump adds that “We are doing MUCH better than any other country!”

It’s his latest tweet to push back against criticism following his meeting with Putin in Finland on Monday. Trump has given shifting statements on whether he believes Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election – which is what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded.

Trump has said the meeting with Putin will result in improved U.S.-Russia relations.

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12:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is taking a tougher tone on Russia. He says in an interview with CBS that he told Vladimir Putin to stay out of America’s elections.

That’s a change from Trump’s initial upbeat description of his meeting with Russia’s president. The shifting stance came Wednesday as Trump spent more time managing the fallout from his widely criticized summit with Putin in Helsinki.

Trump backtracked on whether Russia is currently targeting U.S. elections. When asked the question Wednesday, he answered “no,” a reply that put him sharply at odds with recent public warnings from his own intelligence chief.

Hours later, the White House stepped in to say Trump’s answer wasn’t what it appeared.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, left, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. McConnell says there is “indisputable evidence” Russia tried to affect the 2016 presidential election. He says the Senate understands the “Russia threat” and that is the “widespread view here in the United States Senate among members of both parties.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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